Varsities set to come alive as ASUU ends eight-month strike

October 15, 2022
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By Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan, Adekunle Jimoh, Ilorin, Tony Akowe, Abuja, Sola Shittu, Gombe, Sunny Nwankwo, Umuahia, Elo Edremoda, Warri, Kolade Adeyemi ADEYEMI, Jos and Frank Ikpefan, Abuja 

Universities across the country are set to come alive  eight months after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).embarked on an industrial  strike action.

This is as members of the ASUU in various universities have expressed willingness to comply with the directive of the national body with immediate effect.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU resolved to suspend the industrial action during its overnight meeting that  stretched  from  Thursday to Friday.

While announcing the end of the industrial action,  ASUU said  its demands had not been satisfactorily addressed despite the agreement to call off the strike.

Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Gombe State University, GSU and Federal University Kashere, FUK yesterday, said they are set for automatic compliance with the directive from their national body to resume work immediately.

GSU ASUU Chairman, Dr. Suleiman Salihu Jauro, said the branch will follow the laid down procedure by calling for a congress of the union on Monday to decide on the national body’s directive.

According to him, the union is a body of law-abiding intellectuals who have respect for the laws of the country.

“We have our laid down procedure which is to call for the congress which is the highest decision making body of the union. It is at the congress that we will decide when to resume,” he said.

Similarly, the Chairman of ASUU FUK, Dr. Shehu El-rasheed said he was already on his way to Kashere from Jos to resume work immediately.

El-rasheed said the union as a law abiding body will comply with not only the national directive but also the subsisting court ruling.

According to him, the union is a respecter of the nation’s judiciary as a law abiding institution.

“We are going to comply with the national directive and also the subsisting court ruling as a law abiding union,” he said.

The chairman of ASUU  chapter, University of Jos,  Dr.  Lazarus Maigoro said  the institution was set to resume lectures.

Maigoro,  who spoke to The Nation on Friday,  said, “ We cannot be different from the position of our national executive  since they have agreed to suspend the strike.

“Yes,  we are back to work. We have suspended the strike . As such,  if the students are not on ground, we cannot lecture. We are on to call back the  students.

Some lecturers were seen on the campus of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE), in Delta state when our correspondent visited the institution.

With this development,  lectures are expected to commence fully at the university by Monday, The Nation learnt.

Efforts to speak with the chairman of ASUU, FUPRE branch, Dr. Ezekiel Agbalagba, were unsuccessful, as of press time.

A reliable source who confirmed the development, also disclosed that prior to the suspension of the strike, members of ASUU FUPRE branch had held a meeting.

“They held a meeting yesterday (Thursday). But you know the national body has suspended the strike, so that may be what the meeting was about.

“We started seeing some lecturers today. So we expect that by Monday, lectures will start fully,” the source said.

Members of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) chapter of the Academic staff of Universities (ASUU), The Nation learnt, are fully prepared to resume lectures next week.

A lecturer at the university simply said that “we received the directive today and we are complying with that on Monday next week.”

When contacted, ASUU Chair Prof Moyosore Ajao said simply said we are resuming after our congress on Monday next week.”

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU); the two chapters of the two state and federal institutions in Abia State were yet to report to duties as at the point of filing this report but findings showed that they may return to work next week.

A lecturer at the state university that preferred anonymity said that they were waiting for the directives of the leadership of ASUU in their school.  A former leader of the ASUU, Umudike chapter said that the chapter will likely have their congress on Monday or Tuesday to adopt the decision of the national leadership.

“The strike was called off this morning. Today is Friday, so many people would have traveled to their respective villages or important places.

“Their coming back will be Monday or Tuesday. As has been the case, after the national takes a position on any matter, chapters will meet and rectify such a decision.

“I believe that by Monday or Tuesday, the chapter will meet to take position on the matter.”

Some shop owners were around the academic environments to tidy up their shops in anticipation of the resumption.

Gbajabiamila, parents association, students commend ASUU for suspending strike

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), and students  have commended the Academic Staff Union of Universities for suspending the eight-month old industrial action to pave the way for the resumption.

Gbajabiamila, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said it was unfortunate that the strike was allowed to happen in the first place.

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He assured that the House will do everything possible to ensure that the terms of agreement leading to the suspension of the strike are adhered to.

He said “I am pleased by the decision by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend their ongoing strike action.  This decision is the right call as it allows students at public universities in the country to resume their academic activities.

“I thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu; Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige; Professor Emmanuel Osodeke and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for working to resolve the issues that necessitated the strike action.

“I also appreciate my colleagues in the House of Representatives for the decision to intervene in negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).  I am confident that the House will endeavour to ensure that the Federal Government keeps its commitments to the union and universities.

“It is regrettable that this strike action happened in the first place. It is even more unfortunate that it lasted as long as it did.  We must make sure it never happens again.  Our public universities should be citadels of learning and innovation, where young people discover themselves and reach for the stars.  That is not now the case.  Changing that requires that we admit certain harsh truths and take radical action.

“The suspension of this strike does not mean all the issues of funding, education standard, and student and staff welfare have been resolved.  Therefore, we must not rest on our oars.  Instead, let this be a call to action for the government, universities, unions, and citizens to begin the critical conversation about the future of public tertiary education in the country. I assure you that this is an objective the House of Representatives will pursue with dedication and determination.

“I wish our young people Godspeed as they return to school.  I encourage them to ensure that the disruption to the academic calendar does not deter them from pursuing their ambitions and achieving their best dreams. May God bless and keep you, and God bless our Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN),  also   hailed the decision of  ASUU on suspension of the eight-month-old strike.

Through the Deputy National President of the association, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, NAPTAN said parents were delighted that students would resume after staying at home for eight months.

Ogunbanjo, however, urged  lecturers  to put in their best and be  serious with their job.

On forestalling a recurrence of the long strike, the Deputy National President, advised the Federal Government to honour its agreement with the union on ‘instalmental basis’.

He said: “ Parents are happy that lecturers are resuming after eight months. We appreciate ASUU for eventually realising the need to call off the strike. However, ASUU lecturers should be serious with their work. They should now put in their best. In some federal universities, some of our children In 300-Level cannot find  their 100-Level results because of improper handling.

“The  union should understand that education of  our children is paramount; having good facilities in school too is imperative for the government to look into.

Lecturers  should not take their job with levity  now that the strike is over.  To forestall a recurrence, the government should honour its agreement with them,even if on installments basis.”

Some of the students including the Student Union Government President, Comrade Adewole  Adeyinka, Ibitoye Jeremiah and another Union leader, Benedict Adetunji however enjoined students to cooperate with authorities of their respective institutions for peace to reign in the country’s ivory towers.

It was observed that some students have started opening their hostels with many bringing out mattresses and bedspreads to sundry.

Some others were also seen dusting their apartment as some others were seen returning to the school premises.

A level 200 Micro-Biology UNIJOS student, Joseph  Maxwell, who spoke to The  Nation, said,  “I am pleased with the development of suspending the strike. We are ready to resume lectures, anytime the gate of the University is opened. We’ve been home for eight months. I thank all that made the suspension possible.”

How to avoid strikes in varsities, by Committee of Vice-Chancellors

The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has disclosed how the Federal Government can avoid future industrial disputes in the university system.

The committee advised the government to address the fundamental trust issues between it and all unions operating in universities across the country.

Secretary-General, CVCNU, Prof Yakubu Ochefu revealed this during a briefing in Abuja to mark the celebration of sixty years of leadership in Nigerian universities.

Prof Ochefu said the desire of the CVCNU is to see a situation where never again Nigeria will have disengagement of academic activities and see all issues that drove the process of 2022 strike in Nigerian universities resolved.

Prof. Ochefu said: “We stated right from day one that there is a fundamental trust issue between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities ,the unions operating in the universities. That trust issue arises from the fact that the federal government will agree on issues that have caused the strike and make a commitment to pay or deliver certain reports, they commit themselves to resolving issues that have caused the strike ,and then they implement that position onto a point and they go to sleep.

“But we are happy that finally ASUU and the FG have been able to reach some agreement and what we desire is a situation whereby never again Nigeria will have disengagement of Academic Activities and fundamental issues that drive the whole process of strike should be sorted out.”

Speaking on the conditional suspension of the strike, he confirmed that the government and the members of the Academic Staff Union must have reached a certain compromise which possibly included clearing of backlog of salaries and payment of stabilisation funds which has been included in the 2023 appropriation bill.

“That is why ASUU must be saying let us be sure it is conditional, you have said you will clear backlog of salaries in two installments and you commit yourself to a timeline, you commit yourself to address stabilisation fund and it has been included in the project and we have seen it but what then happens in that 2023 is that by 2023 when budget is been implemented that aspect of the budget will now take secondary position and ASUU will begin to write letters again and again, that is a situation the CVCNU hopes to never see again,” Prof. Ochefu added.

The Secretary General of CVCNU said the core objectives of the founding members at the time of establishing universities in Nigeria were to identify common problems impacting Nigerian Universities at the grass-roots level, make decisions on how to address them, and implement sound leadership practices and educational value in the Nigerian Universities.

According to him, from 1948 till October 2022, the number of Nigerian Universities had grown to 219.

He said: “On the 14th of October 1962, five gentlemen assembled in the Office of Dr Kenneth O. Dike, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, for what we can now say was the inaugural meeting of what came to be known as the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities. The other gentlemen were; Professor Norman Alexander, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1962-1966), Dr George Marion Johnson, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1960-1964), Professor Oladele Adebayo Ajose, University of Ife (1962-1966), Professor Eni Njoku, University of Lagos(1962-1965).

“The inaugural meeting discussed how to harmonise the academic calendar between Secondary schools and Universities, how to improve the number of admissions for students and how to improve funding to the Universities. Three of the five universities were owned by the regional government, two of which opened earlier that year. Ibadan had operated as a University College since 1948, while Nsukka opened its doors to students in October 1960.”

He said over 554 persons have been Vice-Chancellors and 144 in acting capacity.

“Of this number, academics from the Faculty of Science have contributed77 Vice Chancellors , social science 48, Humanities 42, Medicine, and Law, 21.

The Nigerian University system has also produced 35 Female Vice-Chancellors with 19 of them currently serving.

“Some of the oldest surviving former Vice-Chancellors who served in the1980’s include Professor Ayo Banjo, Adamu Baike, Shehu Galadanchi, Ango Abdulahi, SJ. Cookey, Buba Bajoga, Umaru Shehu, Jibrin Aminu. From our records, the southwest zone with 177, has produced the highest number of Vice-Chancellors with Ogun State having 40 persons. South East has produced 129 with Abia having 35. Non-Nigerians who have served as Vice-Chancellors number 15″

“The Association was established as a result of the necessity to unite all Vice-Chancellors, regardless of their ownership. All of Nigeria’s Vice-Chancellors from Federal, State, and Private Universities are members of the CVC committee. The Committee permits automatic participation whenever a University is accepted by the Federal Government and awarded a license by the National Universities Commission (NUC),” he said.

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